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Hate Crime

Hate crime is any criminal offence committed against a person or property that is motivated by hostility towards someone based on their disability, race, religion, gender identity or sexual orientation:

  • race, colour, ethnic origin, nationality or national origins
  • religion
  • gender or gender identity
  • sexual orientation
  • disability
  • age

Find out more about how we prosecute hate crime

CPS racist and religious crime data published

20/02/2008

The Crown Prosecution Service's Racist and Religious Incident Monitoring report for 2006-2007 shows an increase in prosecutions on the previous year for racist offences and a fall in prosecutions for religiously aggravated offences.

Prosecutions for racially aggravated offences rose by 23 per cent with 9,145 defendants, of which the CPS prosecuted 7,694 defendants or 84.1 per cent. Religiously aggravated cases fell by 37.2 per cent with 27 defendants received, of which the CPS prosecuted 22 defendants or 81.5 per cent.

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Sir Ken Macdonald QC said: "We regard racist and religiously aggravated crimes as particularly serious because victims are targeted solely because of their identity or beliefs. These crimes don't just affect individual victims and their families but whole communities.

"The CPS is determined to take a robust view of these cases. Prosecutors are working closely with the police to make sure the strongest evidence is put before the courts to convict offenders."

For racist offences, the number of defendants pleading guilty has increased by 1.7 per cent to 72.7 per cent in 2006-07, with 15.2 per cent being found guilty after trial, so that convictions accounted for 87.9 per cent of the 10,179 charges prosecuted. This is an increase of 0.9 per cent on the previous year's figure. There were two cases of homicide. One offender was convicted after trial and one pleaded guilty.

This is the fourth year that the report has carried data on religiously aggravated offences. The overall conviction rate for religiously aggravated offences was 89.6 per cent, down from 98 per cent. There was also a fall in the proportion of guilty pleas, from 70.6 per cent last year to 65.5 per cent this year.

A total of 29 religiously aggravated charges were prosecuted in 27 cases*, a decrease of 37.2 per cent on 2005-06. 51.7 per cent of these cases were prosecuted in the magistrates' courts with religiously aggravated public order offences accounting for nearly half the charges (44.8 per cent). All of these cases were identified as religiously aggravated by the police, and in all cases, the CPS lawyer considered that there was sufficient evidence to establish religious aggravation. The actual or perceived religion of the victim was not known in four out of the 27 cases. In the 23 known cases, 17 victims were identified as Muslim, three as Christian, two as Jewish and one as Sikh.

Sir Ken said: "We are satisfied that the police and CPS are identifying religiously aggravated crimes correctly. We are monitoring this type of crime more closely than ever before and awareness is high among prosecutors and police officers. This will be a central part of our Community Engagement programme as we encourage all communities to report crimes."

* In one or more cases, the defendant faced more than one charge

Electronic versions of the report are available on request and also in the Research, Monitoring and Evaluation Reports section on this website, as well as the CPS policy on prosecuting racist and religious crime in the Prosecution Policy and Guidance/Racist and Religious Crime section on this website.

  1. For further information contact CPS Press Office on 020 7796 8079.
  2. There are 165 Witness Care Units across the country. Witness Care Officers provide a tailored package of support for each victim to help them to attend court and give evidence.
  3. Examples of racially aggravated offences
    1. Racially Aggravated Common Assault:
      The defendant went to a taxi office to take a taxi from Bournemouth town centre to Southbourne. After a short time, he began to swear and shout racist abuse at the taxi driver, who then called the police. The defendant became more agitated and racially abusive. At one stage he got out of the taxi and punched the victim on the arm. He was restrained by members of the public and the victim until the police arrived. In interview, the defendant maintained that he had been 'having a joke' with the taxi driver and had not in any way been offensive. The evidence, however, indicated that he was extremely drunk and witnesses saw his aggressive behaviour.
      The defendant pleaded guilty on the morning of the trial and was sentenced to four months imprisonment.
    2. Racially Aggravated S4a Public Order:
      The victim, a Black Caribbean man, was working at an address in Bootle, Merseyside. He heard someone making monkey noises, and saw the defendant hanging out of a nearby window. The victim responded by shaking his head and continued working. A few seconds later, the defendant came outside holding a claw hammer. He approached the victim and shouted "Nigger". The victim believed that the defendant was trying to pick a fight. The victim tells him he is just trying to do his job and asks to be left alone. The defendant was then dragged away by another man. The defendant was arrested after his description was recognised by a local police officer.
      The defendant did not attend court for the trial, where the case was proved in absence. A warrant was issued and, when the defendant appeared, he was sentenced to an immediate 8 month detention and supervision order - a severe youth sentence.
    3. Racially Aggravated Common Assault:
      The victim in this case is an Iraqi national who was out with his brother-in-law (also an Iraqi national) when they were approached by the defendant, who was drunk The defendant used terms such as 'fucking Paki' and 'fucking Black', then struck at the victim without any provocation.
      The defendant pleaded guilty on the morning of his trial at the Crown Court and was sentenced to 9 months imprisonment suspended for 2 years, a weekend curfew for 3 months, compensation to the victim of £2,000 and a community order.
  4. Examples of religiously aggravated offences
    1. Charge: Religiously aggravated common assault x 2
      A 46-year-old woman, who was 7 months pregnant, and her 17 year old daughter were waiting at a bus stop. They are of Turkish ethnicity and of the Muslim faith. They were talking to each other in Turkish when they were approached by the 20-year-old defendant - a stranger to them. He was drunk and said 'Bastard' followed by 'Fucking Muslim'. He then walked up and down the bus shelter, spitting at the floor near the women. Their bus arrived and the women stood, at which point the defendant deliberately spat at the mother and then the daughter, his spittle making contact with their upper-body clothing. When arrested later, the defendant claimed that he could not remember why he had acted as he did.
      The defendant pleaded Guilty at Magistrates' court and was sentenced to three months imprisonment suspended for 18 months on each count consecutively, with a supervision order for 12 months and a requirement that he attends an alcohol misuse programme. The victims were awarded £100 compensation each.
    2. Charge: Religiously Aggravated S4 Public Order x 2
      The victims, a husband and wife, had received religious abuse from the defendant and his family over a period of time. These two incidents happened on the same day. The first one occurred as the defendant and the victim were driving in opposite directions. The victim suddenly heard religiously abusive comments shouted at him by the defendant. The victim stopped and asked the defendant why he was saying this and the defendant repeated his comments. That evening, as the couple were parking their car outside their house, the defendant approached the driver's side of the car and again shouted religiously abusive comments at the victim, who got out of his car. The Defendant then sought to set a German Shepherd dog on the victim. The dog barked and jumped up on the victim. The victim's wife remonstrated with the defendant, who then rubbed his crotch in a rude and offensive gesture towards her.
      The defendant was convicted after trial and sentenced to 6 months imprisonment suspended for one year, a 12-month supervision order and a 3-month curfew between 9pm and 7am.
  5. The Anti-Terrorism Crime and Security Act 2001 amended the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 to create new religiously aggravated offences. This provision came into effect on 14 December 2001. The offences capable of being charged as religiously aggravated offences can be divided into four broad categories:
    1. Assaults
    2. Public Order offences
    3. Criminal Damage
    4. Harassment offences

    The Act also introduced a requirement for courts sentencing offenders to treat more seriously any offence (other than one of the specific religiously aggravated offences) which was found to be religiously aggravated. (This mirrored the provisions of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 relating to racially aggravated offences).

  6. The Racial Incident Monitoring Scheme Annual Report 2006-2007 contains information compiled by the Crown Prosecution Service on prosecution decisions and outcomes in all cases identified by the police or CPS as racist incidents between 1 April 2006 and 31 March 2007. It provides the following information:
    • The number of racist incident defendant cases submitted by CPS areas during the reporting period;
    • CPS decisions on charges put by the police;
    • Details of charges prosecuted;
    • Details of charges dropped;
    • Outcomes of charges prosecuted in the Magistrates Courts, the Crown Courts and Youth Courts; and
    • Figures for religiously aggravated crimes.
  7. Racially aggravated charges are sometimes withdrawn through lack of evidence or if the victim wishes to make a retraction, but there can still be a prosecution for the standard offence (e.g. assault or criminal damage).
  8. For the purposes of the report, the police and CPS have used the definition provided in the Macpherson report which states that "a racist incident is an incident which is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person". A similar definition has been adopted by the CPS for religious incidents.
  9. Section 28 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 defined an offence as racially aggravated if the offender demonstrates racial hostility towards the victim at the time of, or before or after, committing an offence; or is motivated wholly or partly by hostility towards members of a racial group. It created specific offences of racially aggravated assault, criminal damage, public order and harassment. Additionally, section 153 of the Powers of Criminal courts (Sentencing) Act 2000 (replacing section 82 of the 1998 Act) imposes a duty on sentencing courts to treat evidence of racial aggravation as an aggravating feature, increasing the seriousness of the offence and the sentence to be imposed, in cases where offences are not specifically charged under the 1998 Act.